I haven’t written anything here lately since nothing of interest has been going on.  Evan is home now most of the time since marching band season has ended and although it’s been nice having him home, it doesn’t make for interesting stories.  But that all changed Sunday night.

Ice storm.

This happens about once a year – we have a snow storm or, rarely, an bit of ice and they close the schools.  We stay home and watch TV all day and then it’s over.  But I guess once a generation or so we get “the big one”.

We went to bed wondering if things would get icy and about 4:00 am I awoke to strange popping sounds.  I assumed that this was an electrical sound and sure enough, we had no power.  I can’t sleep after awakening to stuff like that and so got up and showered before the hot water in the tank (in the cold garage) cooled off.  Mel did the same.  We lit candles and wandered around the house learning to live without anything more than a little speck of light.  I learned that walking around with a candle in front of you like they used to do in movies is a dumb idea.  All you can see is the bright candle flame and your eye adjusts to it so that you can’t see anything else.  You have to shield it our hold it up above your head so you can see around you.  Since it was actively raining freezing rain outside, it was as dark as a stack of black cats so there wasn’t much to do except listen to the crack of tree limbs outside.

We’ve always known that the huge elm tree in our neighbor’s yard needed pruning but most people don’t want to invest in such preventive measures as that when they can invest in a big screen TV instead and get immediate satisfaction.  Today they’re paying for that lack of investment because at around 5:30 am, I heard a sickening cracking followed by a huge thump.  The first of their limbs had broken off and hit their boat parked beside the house.

As the morning wore on, I heard more and more of this.  The conditions were really weird; the ground temperature was above freezing and the air temperature was about 29 degrees so that the rain would not freeze onto the ground or roads but froze on anything that was above ground like power lines and trees.  And it kept raining.  Most people who normally park their cars underneath trees for the shade moved them somewhere else and were glad they did.

All morning long it rained off and on and all we could do was sit and listen to tree after tree cracking and dropping limbs onto this or that lawn or house.  By the afternoon it seemed to be finished raining for awhile and we took a walk around the neighborhood.  We had only been listening to a battery powered radio so we hadn’t actually seen anything except our own lawns.

Our neighborhood is a disaster.

No tree is unscathed and many are totally destroyed.  This happened south of here and over in Arkansas back in 2001 (I think) and I remember thinking that no tree would live to see another spring but most of them sprang back after a heavy pruning and I suppose the same will be true here but right now it looks grim.  Everyone’s lawn is full of limbs and branches and city crews are working 24X7 to get them out of the streets.  I have three young oak trees and in all the storms we’ve been through none of them has ever lost more than a twig but this time there are several larger limbs near the top that are broken.  Nothing has fallen yet though.

About mid afternoon, I discovered that I have a leak in the roof.  Apparently something about having ice on the roof (and some of it melting) causes a leak.   That’s just dandy.  I got up into the attic and put a bucket under the offending section and left it at that.  I guess I’ll deal with that later.  I guess that “tree trimming” will be the next big business opportunity for the next few months or so.

The worst part is that we have no electricity.  The house gradually cooled off throughout the day and we prepared to pile on the blankets.  I had heated water on the fireplace for coffee, oatmeal, rice and such.  We were preparing to fry some chicken when our inlaws called.  They live only a couple of blocks away and they had never lost power.  We immediately packed up and went over there because they had cable TV, internet, and a spare bedroom now that their daughter is married and moved away.  It was fun to feel self sufficient and all that but when we had a chance to get hot water we jumped on it.

About half of all people in our area are without power so it’s a widespread thing.  I stayed home because I have the vacation time to do so and so just got lazy but there are many that are pretty hard up.

I hope we get power back soon – teenagers are quickly bored with playing SkipBo and dominoes with their parents.  But I remember hearing of a long-term blackout back in the 80’s when my parents lived for about a week without power and quickly learned to cook on the fireplace.  They told stories of families all over town who learned to interact with each other again after years of TV addiction.  Later on, they spoke fondly of the long-term “campout” in their own homes where they all got to know each other again.  Hopefully that can happen around here too.

I heard they declared the state a “disaster area”.  I don’t know what that means but I expect I’ll find out.

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